Carter Craig, Attorneys at Law

Repair method for water pipes presents dangers

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Pipe workers in Virginia may be interested to know that research from Purdue University indicates that a commonly used method to fix water pipes can result in the release of dangerous chemicals into the air. With the cured-in-place pipe repair method, workers place a tube made of fabric and resin inside of a damaged pipe and use pressurized steam, hot water or ultraviolet light to cure it and make a new plastic pipe. Researchers say that a reassessment of the dangers the cured-in-place repair procedure presents to workers is needed.

Researchers conducted air test studies in California and Indiana at seven steam-cured cured-in-place pipe sites, which included five stormwater pipe facilities and two sanitary sewer facilities. The test results indicated that chemical clouds that were previously thought to be steam contain, among other types of organic compounds and vapors, endocrine disruptors and carcinogens. The findings of the tests challenge long-held beliefs about the safety of the technology.

According to an assistant professor of engineering at Purdue University, the cured-in-place pipe repair method is used in half of all of the water pipe repairs in the country. It is important to understand exactly what type of short-term and long-term effects the chemical exposures can have on workers and the general public.

A co-author of the study touts the effectiveness of the CIPP process but states there are safety and health concerns that have to be addressed. There are no known studies that verify the safe exposure limits for the chemical mixture or that verify that the inhalation and skin exposure to the chemical mixture is safe.

Workers who are injured because of unsafe processes at work may be entitled to workers' compensation. A personal injury attorney may advise injured clients of all of their legal options, which may include filing third-party lawsuits.

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